The Typecasting Couch

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Lately I’ve run into a spate of people (though not risen to the level of plethora) who stubbornly refuse to date this guy or that girl because “they aren’t My Type”. End of discussion. Not coincidently they are, to a man (or woman) keenly lonely. And that breaks my heart because I’ve learned a lesson or two about being loyal to My Type.

For a good 20 years you could sew by the pattern of My Type. So practiced at it was I that I’ll condense it down for you right here; Little Stoner Girls Looking for Daddy. Bonus points for little titties and red hair. The closer you were to that, the more I was smitten. The further from it, the less visible you were to me at all as a potential partner. It was on par with being a love geiger counter. Only it took me those 20 years to grasp that the louder the clacking the more radioactive the relationship was going to be. Because the more you were My Type, the more I was going to practice working from my script of who I thought I was and how I thought I needed to act. And you were going to love me back. And it was going to be uh-MAZ-ing. And it was. Until the very same intense fire that created that passion also burned everything down around us. Every goddamn time. Brand loyalty to My Type gave me license to act a part in a script that you had no idea you were reading for. And largely I had no idea either. It often got fugly.

:::clackityclackbzzzclackclack:::

Each attempt more toxic and shorter lived, the more I held rigidly to the idea of the Holy Grail of lovers – the Unicorn! The shining exception to the golden rule of dating: crazy in the head, crazy in the bed! The longer I pursued it the less epic it became until from the outside looking in it was more reminiscent of Monty Python than King Arthur. Indeed I’d become the Black Knight, ineffectually bleeding on things while demanding loyalty to My Type as the one true way to love for me. Shiny had become glaring. I was loyal alright. Loyal to my suffering. Because never deviating wasn’t honorable. It wasn’t even being true to myself. It was only being lazy and scared with great conviction. The really douchey part was that by seeing you as a ‘type’ I also wasn’t seeing you as a person. What a dick!

Here’s what’s helped break my self-deluded spell.

Chaos.

It gets a bad rap in our society but Chaos was the key to smashing My Type. First of all I stopped dating. I know, the next boy or girl you have on your My Type radar has potential. Trust me, it’s the same shit. Because you’re the same. So just fucking stop. Take a breather. Remember who you are when you aren’t trying to complete you at someone else’s expense. Write. Go strange places. With new friends. Or really old friends. Don’t fuck them. Pay attention to what feelings come up when you don’t fuck them. Write about them. Breaking patterns creates chaos. It jars me awake when I didn’t know I was comatose. Only do it while being present. You’ll learn incredible things about yourself. You’ll finally see some ick about yourself that you can actually sluff off and walk away from. Keep writing. Double dog dare yourself to do new things. Discover who you’ve become while you were busy thinking you were someone else in an ill-fitting suit or dress.

That brilliant sense of alertness? The sharper colors? Vivid scents in the air? Those laughs from your belly? Chaos. Write about it. Putting it down on paper essentially makes a contract with myself that this is who I am today. Feel free to tear it up tomorrow. But writing it down cements that I, in fact, am awake!

Now date someone different. Someone outside Your Type. Be awkward. Don’t feel instant lust. Don’t have any idea what charming, clever thing to say. Put the fucking script down, because it isn’t who you are anymore. Just look across the table at this new person, take a deep breath, exhale. And be genuine. You’ll be shocked at what falls out your mouth.

You’ve got absolutely nothing to lose and the world to gain by being who you are with people who expect nothing else. Have an adventure.

#Not All Men (Are Cowards)

You probably think the guy who shot up Santa Barbara because women owed him is a psycho. But if you’ve pressured a woman for sex, exclaimed “I’d hit that!”, called her a whore or a slut when she didn’t act right, made her feel creeped out or unsafe by how you look at her, touched without permission, scorned or punished her for not putting out, or lack the ability to hold a conversation that isn’t rife with innuendo then you’re part of the same psyche that felt the need to make women pay.
NEWSFLASH women are human beings, not a life support system for a pussy. Stop for a minute and flip it backwards – what would you think of a person who treated you the way you treat the women in your life? Think about it.

UPDATE: I caught massive shit for posting this. Even so far as to be called a traitor to my gender. I couldn’t be prouder. I am not a traitor. I want to shove my gender kicking and screaming into the 21st century that it might earn the dignity of being humane.

God’s Country II – Electric Boogaloo

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An image that keeps playing back over in my mind since I’ve been here happened the first night we tried to hit a meeting. There were a couple listed as close to us so we ventured forth in search of bad coffee and like minds. Our first choice was several blocks up from our house and though I’d been warned that it’s not adviseable to be anywhere along I-10 if I wasnt in a car I figured what the hell. Up the road we went, lovely tree lined streets and restored buildings cheering us along.

The further out we went though, the less care seemed to be taken in their upkeep. Boarded windows, tall grass, abandoned cars and trash encrouched on the less frequently lovely old homes. We finally came up on the church where the meeting was listed at and were confronted with a long sign across the side of its entrance. There it listed some 200 names subheading the years 2007 & 2008. Next to each name was the person’s demise. And no meeting. I checked my gps and found another meeting a little back the way we came and several blocks up, running the perimeter of what is considered the good and bad side of town.

Off we went, recalculated and further determined, marching turf I hadnt cruised since the bad old days of making drops. It’s funny how all of it comes back to you; how you carry yourself, move your arms, enough eye contact to claim your business without unnecessarily challenging, who to nod at and who not. All the while keeping in mind my girl’s protection whilst not reading like I thought I needed to as eyes followed us.

And then it happened.
Along the very wide grassy and tree filled corridor separating east and westbound traffic was one of the most surreal things I’ve ever seen, like Oliver Stone hallucination scene stunning; a black kid, maybe 12 years old trotting along the grass atop a gorgeous horse, bareback. And I mean this steed was majestic. Like those spanish show horses I’ve seen on tv. Big, flowing tan mane and tail, prancing, toned physique. Juxtaposed against a bustling road. Staged behind working class, abject poverty. It stopped me in my tracks. And i smiled. Ackowledging it changed everything. They were off about their business, just as we were. Just as everyone else was. Only now I saw the laughter as we made our way up the road to a new meeting where they didnt do it right. And I didnt mind one bit.

For those of you who used to read my blog posts here is God’s Country the original story, regarding steps, perception and having a servant’s heart. Enjoy!

Breaking the String In My Back

 

Lately I’ve been sort of floundering and rudderless. My life is fairly busy and full with friends, sponsees, girlfriend, family, various adventures, 4th Dimension… but with my career in my rear view mirror for just about 2 years now I dont really feel too much like I have a point other than to maintain the shit that I can do blindfolded.
What keeps pushing its way through the mundane, auto-piloted, Charlie Brown’s teacher drivel (“Blah, blah Neil! Blah blah blahdiddyblah Neil!) that fills the hours in my head is this insistent thought that I need to write something. Not like AA inventory number 71. But something substantive. Two things keep popping up over and over. Either fleshing my blog style out to a series of essays ala The Prophet, because my writing style is designed for that, or a Guide through the 12 steps for Atheists.
I am of course drawn to the idea of the latter idea because it will by its nature cause controversy. Child of Chaos, guilty as charged.
But that’s not the point of why I’m writing this right now. The greater point is that for years now people have been telling me “OMG!!! You NEED to write a book!!!” (insert eye roll) to which I reflexively say, as if I was a Neil Action Figure and you’d just pulled a string in my back, “I used to draw all the time, hours a day when I was a kid. It was my emotional outlet and release. The day I started getting paid to do that, it stopped. Havent been able to draw just for funzies since. Writing is that outlet now and I dont dare fuck with that.” I’ve been saying that shit for years like a sad wistful Sam Jackson’s Jules in Pulp Fiction quoting Ezekiel 25:17 right before he shoots someone.
Except now it occurs to me that what if that isnt even true? Anymore? …or ever? What if that has been nothing but an eloquent weapon to swat people down with so they dont notice I’ve just been being loyal to my suffering and the only thing being shot dead after my soliloquy is Hope?
What then? What if I was to suddenly bitch slap one of my mostest sacredest of cows, step right into its personal space and call it out? What if I dared to step right through my comfort zone and do it different….?

So here’s the gauntlet thrown down. The double dog dare:
In the interest of psychic spring cleaning – what old paradigm, written in stone commandment are you willing to toss on it’s head because it’s no longer a lovely accessory, it’s just a fucking ball and chain.

Telling You What I Need to Hear

A month ago I started sponsoring a fellow who I’d known around the rooms for many years. He approached me because he’d heard that once upon a time I’d trafficked meth in sobriety and he figured I’d understand his addiction to power and adrenaline. True enough. As we were standing there I asked him if he had any digits in his phone that he knew he could make quick cash with. He said yes. My response was to kill em. Out came his cell and God bless the willingness of the desperate – delete, delete, …SIGH… delete.
I was so proud of him for the courage that took.

Two days later a very rude and uninvited thought popped into my head. Neil? Yes. Do you have the very same balls to delete the names from your cell and social networking sites that you know you can call to get a quick fix of validation?

Fuck.

I stewed on that one for another two days. Not because i needed to have a debate in both houses followed by a 2/3 super majority passage to enact. Oh no. The bald face truth of that double dog dare meant it was all over but the shouting. I spent that two days grieving the loss of one of my oldest and dearest safety nets. The clarity of what I HAD to do was unshakable; I could not, would not, ever have happiness in my life in a love relationship unless I stopped touching base with my past. Holding onto it, even with just a finger tip, was the death of my last relationship and would forever be in the way of my ability to be present with anything new in my future. You cant unknow something like that. So I either trust God or I dont. Fuck.

Delete, delete, delete, delete, delete, delete, …SIGH… delete.

And it was done. I’ll be damned if there wasnt a huge sense of relief that washed over me. And what’s this…? Hope? As with every other rock that I’ve grudgingly handed over to that Power I dont understand, i am amazed at how much lighter I feel after I surrender what wasnt truly mine in the first place. I feel right-sized again. Free. Buoyant. Better prepared for this next adventure. All because I told a guy what I needed to hear.

Apologies in advance to all of you that just said “Fuck.”

God’s Country

I’ve long been perturbed when people refer gushingly to places of expansive physical beauty as ‘God’s Country’. I always reflexively wonder what kind of God would favor Yosemite over Uganda? Does God not hang out in Los Banos? …Okay, maybe that’s a poor reference… but still.

This weekend I finally crashed under the weight of all my circumstances over the last eight months; lost career, lost leg, lost girl. The environment that had evolved by making my home so open to everyone had turned into a prison of sorts where I had nowhere to seek sanctuary. So I beat feet, jumped in my car and drove till I ran out of sunlight with a change of clothes, a credit card, three spiritual books and a pad of paper. Left behind was my lap top and the ever mischievous and increasingly conspiratorial FaceBook. I shut off my phone after letting a couple of people know that I was going to disappear for awhile and that I’d be back when my pen ran dry. I pulled into a shitty motel with a shitty diner attached to it and holed up.

I stood on the balcony that first night and exhaled a long draw from my cigar with a sense of wistful comfort. This flea bag joint was on the same stretch of road where 25 years ago I’d done business in my former lifetime running meth. Where I’d had to come running one summer night to find my partner spun out of his head, bent over the toilet in his chonies with a half pound in his hand, swearing the cops were there. Only he was right – the poor bastard was being tortured hearing the radio of one of the town’s finest as a hooker worked out her bill in the next room.

Ah, good times.

Only now it was cold, the wind was blowing angrily and the rain was relentless. I sought refuge at the fine dining establishment next door and saddled up to the counter. I’m not sure who was a more firmly ensconced piece of the building, the server, his woman by the register, or the crusty old timers at their well worn thrones further up the table. There was an ease amongst all of them and they welcomed me to their laughter as they razzed a busboy in two languages as he repeatedly failed miserably at snatching a stuffed toy with a wretched crane claw through a garishly lit glass stand. Dessert was blended with an equally good natured back and forth between the denizens threatening to theatrically sermonize and arguing about which language the Bible should be in.

It thawed me and I remembered back 20 years to my last holiday with my father. On the road back from San Diego visiting my sister, we got stuck in a roadside joint by pea soup fog on Christmas night. We all came together laughing and singing. Ma, who was a professional clown, making balloon animals for everyone and a crown for a bald girl whose dad was bringing her back from chemo up north. Magic only happens when you arent expecting it. i was grateful these new kindred souls invited me in and just as grateful that I could still be happily surprised by the gregariousness of strangers.

The next three days were an ebb and flow of writing, praying to nothing, reading, random connections with others on their way somewhere or looking to not be found and pretty mediocre food. But what kept coming up over and over was the love and mutual respect, unspoken as it was, that people had for each other. That they readily accepted me as being a part of. No one was there by accident and I was enlisted to help people with their rooms, borrow a phone, engaged in all sort of small talk to yard nods to profound discussion as I stood in my doorway along with everyone else as it continued to rain. I was one among on my own terms.

During the afternoon in the lull before the place started its nightly buzz I stood again on the balcony and watched as a girl folded towels for tomorrow’s house cleaning duties. To my right was a working girl engaging her boss and making her way down the stairs, that bold, swaying strut clacking time with each step in her spikes like a supremely sexy metronome. I thought to myself that they were both working and who really paid the higher price? And as i finished my rhetorical question she swung into the laundry room and laughed with the maid. It was beautiful to behold.

My last dinner at Chez Greasy Spoon was spent at a booth by myself and I observed all the goings on around me. There were at least four different dialects being spoken, lots of animation amongst the clutches of people as they ate. I was content to watch the show when a couple caught my eye. A young black father and his 3 year old daughter were in the booth next to me. he faced me directly though he never looked me in the eye. This didnt surprise me as we werent of the same clan so to speak. I was completely taken however at how he was with his little girl. He was very gentle, calm and soft spoken and always engaged her. And quite the little chatterbox she was. I marveled at his doting love for her, though not smothering. He was as a Daddy is supposed to be – a strong stable loving guide. When she spilled the maple syrup intended for her blueberry pancakes he only got up and grabbed a wet cloth to clean everything up with, then went back to sharing their meals with her, much to her protestations at the sanctity of HER flapjacks being violated. I was suddenly possessed of an urge to break the rules and hurriedly finished up my chicken fried roadkill and slipped up to the register. The same cashier was there from the previous night and he looked at me quizzically when I asked him if I could pay that gentleman’s bill along with mine. “Sure” he said and as he slid both tabs up to me he asked if I knew him. “Nope.” And he lit up as i finished by saying that it was a thanks for being such an amazing father.

I have no idea how that scene played out 10 minutes later but I’d forgotten how absolutely amazing it made me feel to practice random and (mostly) anonymous acts of kindness. I slept well that night. The din of wind and chatter outside as good a lullaby as I’ve ever heard.

The inventory is written and I’m back home. Ready to go for a long trip with a good friend across the southern U.S. An old sponsor of mine used to take a week every year and just disappear, usually to the desert. His home was very much like mine is now; a busy place full of love and recovery. Though with mine there is the added spice of debauchery. (You havent lived till you’ve stood in a circle reciting the Lord’s Prayer with a roommate’s fuck noises in the background.) Now I get why he needed to leave every now and then, headed to God’s Country to get filled up again. To meditate and contemplate who he had become since last time. Those three days of lousy weather in a crappy motel choring down barely edible food restored me. It was a long weekend in the middle of the week in God’s Country. Because God is wherever I bother to look around me and see.

Poker Face Gone Fishin’

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This morning I was staring at the very top of my wish list. The October 3 House of Blues New Orleans tour date for my currently favorite band in the world, The Dead Weather.

The ‘Buy Tickets’ button mocked me.

I clicked it with the expectation that such a cool gig could not possibly be anything but sold out.
I was wrong.

I checked my calendar with the surety that Shannon would have the kids that weekend.
Wrong again.

I clicked on the Raiders schedule, positive that I should have $100 50yd line tickets frowning at the idea of being hocked.
They’re in Houston that day.

I called my friend at American Airlines, confident that asking for weekend tickets a month away would be the deal breaker.
$260 round trip.

Clearly these were all signs from God that I should see the greatest band on the planet in a very hip club in the sexiest city in America. Yes to those club tix!
Yes to airfare! And suddenly i was giddy like a schoolgirl with front row Jonas Bros back stage passes. It was a strange and liberating thing to be that goddamn happy about something so… cool!
The only thing that made it even better was the slowly raising curtain on my girl’s face as she stared at the ticket on my lap top, rolling through a cliff notes version of the same hope, suspicion, validation and elation I’d spent the last 3 hours Sherping ahead of her, automatically ten times better because I get to share my adventure with my best friend and partner in crime. Now our date with The Dead Weather only accounts for 3 hours of our Friday through Monday window of hedonistic possibilities, but I think we’ll figure something out.

Because God said so.

http://www.houseofblues.com/tickets/eventdetail.php?eventid=59074

*sigh*

Do Ya Wanna Party? (Its Party Time!)

Casper…it was 1985 and I was sober but still running drugs from the Mexican border. The DEA was getting on main safe house in the Mojave Desert a little too frequently, so I decided to lay my hat up north and just make the runs when called.  An acquaintance of mine in San Jose had a two bedroom cottage,  in back of a larger place,  downtown that he needed to fill the extra slot in.  The rent was cheap, the neighborhood was crazy; lotsa big Mexican families laughing and yelling at all hours, sirens and the weekly sealing off of entire blocks while the city cops looked for gang crime suspects, and the occasional synchopatic ‘Bap, bap, bap,’ of semi automatic recoil in the distance made the whole vibe seem just about par.

The house was built around the turn of the century and had been in Ross’ Italian family since then.  It was small with modestly ornate trim inside and out, and a cool four-foot porch leading to the front door.  I took it.

Things were laid back there for a person of my ilk back then; Ross was a punkrock skinhead, who brought all kinds of colorful characters around, and the tunes were usually blaring along with the neighbors’.  We threw a  housewarming  party and one of the fliers made its way to the local college radio station where it received heavy rotation just before the party.  Three to four hundred people showed up and enjoyed the live sounds of a surf-punk band that set up in the living room.  At some point, shots were fired and everyone dropped to the ground-except the band, who didn’t miss a beat.  It was like a scene from ‘Dusk Till Dawn’, as my meth running partner jumped the guy with the gun, beat him and went off running down the street throwing knives at the shooters’ buddies, three paddy wagons pull up…and the band played on.  Two days later my Bro turns up again with my 1960 Cadillac like there’s nothing wrong with that.  It was the best of times.

One night, about two weeks after I moved in, I was enjoying a little peace and quiet in the house when I heard the sounds of two people’s feet crunching gravel as they walked up the driveway.  I assumed it was Cholo and Elrod, the two skinheads that were staying with us.  Around dusk, everyone at the house would gather on the porch to watch as these two boxed (until  someone got knocked out, usually Elrod) over who got to sleep on the couch that night.  But then, the footsteps were quiet as I saw two silhouettes through my sheer curtains ascend the wooden steps, the screen door open and slam on the springed hinge, and curiously, the door never opening.  I opened the curtains to nothing.  No one was there. It was entirely weird ‘cuz I knew I wasn’t imagining that.

So, I asked Ross about it the next day, and he gave me a wry smile and said, “I see you’ve met the roommates.”  He told me that they were his Great-Grandparents, who originally built the house, and that apparently they liked me.

The next few months were filled with trippy, but benign things like bathroom doors opening while you were showering, dishes suddenly changing from one table to another and the radio occasionally changing stations.  It became completely normal and I actually welcomed their presence.  Once in a while, either Ross or I would bring a girl home that they didn’t approve of and they would rattle their cages.  Usually rolling the toilet paper while they were in the bathroom or catching a quick reflection in the mirror…always in the bathroom, for some reason…and the chick would freak and never come back!  It was pretty funny since we were in on the whole thing, but it was never scary shit.

Then Ross developed a new passion for ‘Death Rock’.  Misfits, 45 Grave and bands like that.  Ironically it was around October.  He started partying in graveyards and doing charcoal etchings of the older and more elaborate headstones of one of the cemeteries, which he proceeded to wallpaper his bedroom with.

Then came the dead roses off the fresh graves…and with them several uninvited guests.

Suddenly things are not chilled on 10th street.  On a daily basis doors start slamming, dishes are flying into walls.  There’s stomping going on in the attic, cold spots in the house.  I remember once, I was talking to some girl in the living room and through my doorway, I watched as the entire contents of the top shelf of my bookcase (about ten feet up) slowly slid forward off the shelf, hovered a foot away, then dropped to the floor.  The insanity was so pervasive  that I didn’t bat an eye.  I just turned a little while we talked so she wouldn’t see the show.

The final straw came late one night as I rolled the Caddy up the long dark gravel driveway and noticed that all the lights were on in the house.  Then as I came to a stop, I noticed the curtains fluttering out with the sills still closed.  Then, as I idled, I noticed all the furniture from the living room in a pile in front of the house, broken to pieces. As I sat assessing options and casually reaching for the .45 under the seat, out comes Ross onto the porch, with an end table over head which he throws out onto the pile, paces back an forth on the porch like a pissed off caged lion, grabs a pillar with both hands and proceeds to slam his head forcefully into it until the house lights illuminate rivulets of blood flying off his head like liquid silly string.  Once he was done showing the pillar who was boss, he staggered over to the corner of the porch and slumped into a ball.

After weighing my options for a minute, I killed the engine and walked up the steps.  As I crouched down and touched Ross’ shoulder, he looked up at me exactly like Pink did when Little Pink approached him in the psych ward in The Wall.  That same vacant and elated look of desperation.  I walked him into the house, brightly lit and completely destroyed, except for any item that belonged to me, which remained untouched.  I sat Ross down and picked up the shattered remains of a phone and tried to dial a number to no avail.  I finally convinced him to go with me to his parents.  When we got there, he picked his lumberjack of a father up off the ground, and yes, his feet were off the ground, and it wasn’t until I physically got between them that he dropped him.  Off to the psych ward we go, where he’s put on a 72, and in the interim, I phone up an old friend who is an old school, fresh-off-the-boat, polish psychic.  She came within ten feet of the house and refused to step foot inside.  The next day, Ross’ mom brought him home, walked around the house and said, “What have you done?  There are at least eight unwelcome spirits here besides your Great-Grandparents, and they’re very pissed off!”  Ross’ mom was a sensitive and practiced the occult versions of the Catholic Church.  She said that Ross had been possessed and we needed to perform a ‘White Mass’ on the house.  I let Ross spend the next couple of days putting the place back together, then we sat down in the living room to talk.  We discussed the ritual required and he filled me in on what had happened; that he had brought several souls home with him with his stealing of the flowers and that they were pretty pissed off and fighting with the grandparents.  He had to perform the ritual to clear the house.  When we both said yes, it’s gotta get done, everything on all four walls in his room came straight down and his closet imploded.  The front door slammed shut and we looked at each other with an “Oh shit!” look.  Then things got interesting.

We went down to the Santa Barbara Candle Shop and in a separate back room were all the actual powders, oils, spells and tokens needed for Catholic Occultism.  San Jose has a huge Mexican population and it never occurred to me how organized this aspect of their culture was.  We picked up peace powder, candles smudge sticks and palm shoots to make crosses to place on every window and door in the house, and headed back.  It was a grey afternoon which added to the ominous vibe of the whole thing.  We taped the crosses to all the openings, mixed some concoction in the bathtub and started washing down the house with it.  ( I made Ross do most of it since it was his mess!) and escorted him to the side yard where we burned all the etchings and flowers in a BBQ.  We went back to the house, which had shit flying all over the place, and got back to cleaning.   The air was just thick, I mean like heavy.  It was an odd feeling, almost like being under water, but not like an anxiety attack, it was much more nebulous.  Cabinets were opening and slamming, things rattling, and you had the constant feeling that people were brushing up against you.  Around dusk, I took a break and went out on the porch and the front door slammed shut and bolted behind me in unison with my pace out.  Then, as I sat out on the stoop smoking a cigarette, around the corner in the darkened yard came a growling noise and the sound of what I’d describe as someone hanging from the gutter and pulling themselves up and down dragging steel toed boots over the wood slats of the wall.  I was so unfazed by anything at this point, that I just casually looked over at the black entrance, took a drag off my cigarette, and grinned as I thought, ” No fucking way you could pay me to check that out.”

The washing and burnings and prayers went on for hours, and we called it a ball game around  1 am and although the crazy shit seemed to abate the later it got, we’d seen that before.  We each stayed elsewhere that night and came back the next day.  It was amazing.  You could breathe.  The entire house seemed lighter in a way you can’t touch, but you know is there.

Ross swore off death rock and confined his partying to the living room from then on, and we lived with the occasional dish rattle and frightened girl in relative harmony.

Sadly, this isnt fiction. It’s all true and annoyingly interferes with my surity that reincarnation and afterlives are all fear-based ego driven crap. Dammit!

White Trash Wedding Rings

our tattoo

Saturday was a fabulous dichotomy of lazy purpose and course corrections. Shannon and I started out with the expectation that since the foot had tanked we’d be pretty much doing nothing and liking whether we liked it or not. We decided to have brunch at Hobee’s outside and our good friend Mike joined us which turned into an extra hour of smoking fine cigars under shady trees and sipping iced tea.
The foot said we could probably manage checking out SNL’s picnic at Kelly park. Thank god the entire thing was enclosed in still more shade trees and we had the pleasure of reconnecting with a couple of folks we hadnt seen in quite a long time.
Next up, over the hill. I justified this to the foot by saying we’d just go, take it easy and enjoy my roommate’s Tower of Power-style band with full horn section on the Esplinade in Capitola – maybe have a nice dinner on the water, but I promised that I wouldnt inconvenience it in any way.
It was a good plan till, in a rare moment of poor impulse control, er, an epiphany, I was suddenly struck with a vision as we crested the summit. Tattoos. We *needed* tattoos! A cherub done old school with ‘Clarence & ‘Bama’ emplazoned in scrollwork. On our pelvises. Yes, yes, I know… but it was A Vision! Quick detour to Staircase. So what does our artiste’, Tim have playing on DVD in his studio? True Romance. No joke.
Two hours later we arrived in Capitola riding an endorphin high just in time to catch Steve’s last two songs. Afterwards we met when of his special education students, a kid of about 8 who has CF and was bundled up in his wheel chair. The unbridled, blissful exuberance in this boy as he relished in Steve’s performance reminded me immediately of how much I’ve forgotten about living in the moment. For all the serendipitous events of the day, this was by far the richest. The kid personified the Joy of Living.
The foot insisted we eat and so we strolled, leisurely along the Esplinade till we found a nice restaurant on the water where we snitched off each other’s potato encrusted halibut and steak with gorganzola pasta. Then up the stairs *slowly* to Mister Toots for a couple of lattes to soak in everything we’d done, saw and shared in that lazy, eventful, hysterically fluid day.
The foot dared me on however! We had tickets awaiting us at the Catalyst for BassNectar and I decided we needed to soak some of that hippy, deep house, dirty, grinding bass work into our tattoos. BassNectar is the perfect Shamanic salve for fresh pelvic ink as it turns out. From up on the 2nd tier much of the subwoofer creates a vibration that physically vibrates that..um, chakra. Who knew!
By 12:30 we were spent, wrecked and blissed out and ready for bed, only to get re-excited about the brand new bed and headboard that were headed our way the next morning. Christenings to follow. Film at 11.
I cant recall such a full, rich lazy day and I have poor impulse control to thank for it. Or is that just living in the moment. I have that silly redhead with the mad twinkle and a little boy seemingly confined by his circumstances to remind me once again amazing things cant happen if I dont just show up and take a chance.
Carpe diem, motherfucker!

Our Boy, Jake

jakeThis weekend Shannon and I took our first shared plunge together in domestic commitment and chose a new member of the family. After much interviewing back and forth for months we set our sights on a sweet 4yo Lab-Pittie mix named Jake. After extended interviews with his adoptive family who were having to move from big acreage in Santa Cruz to an apartment and couldnt bear to keep him cooped up we decided to meet Jake yesterday. He and his family came over and everyone sniffed butts with really positive results. He’s absolutely gorgeous with a brown brindle undercoating his Labbie black. My roommate has a 10yo Lab/Ridgeback mix named Brenda and she and Jake immediately started frolicking like old friends. Jake is sure he’s a 70lb lap dog and worships The Ball. He was neglected and abandoned by his first owner and so he has some separation anxiety but no problemo. We’re all very excited to have him as a member of the Gangster Boyscout – Shanwafair brood!

Pinch Me – I’m Dead

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I just bought Dead tickets!!! It’s like Christmas morning, 7 years old and Santa brought me the Big Wheel I never got. I actually sort of surprised myself at just how giddy I got when my purchase went through this morning. My first show was the New Years set in Oakland 1980/81 and I have no idea how many times I’ve seen them till my last show in 1994 when I walked away because the vibe had turned decidedly tweaker around the ol’ Deadhead campfire.
Then Jerry died. Life showed up and I got busy with it and put my hippie soul up on a shelf, though it quite often leaked out in other ways. In 2005 I went to Burning Man for the first time and was overwhelmed by a feeling I thought I’d written an epitaph for a decade earlier, only it wasnt the Dead, there wasnt patchouli, and the drugs were much more sophisticated. But hey, no one bathed so there was that and there was this sense of community, love and anything-possible that stirred me alive again. It’s had me chasing down Burner events since, looking forward to soaking up more of that spirit.
The last 18 months have truly been a long, strange trip and now I almost have to chuckle at the irony of the steal your face logo with it’s bolted skull. Being present has more meaning now than maybe any other time in my life. Burning Man re-aquainted me with that ideal and with my myriad body betrayals of late it takes on a decidedly crisp importance. I know the Dead wont be what they were. I am not who I was. But something in the spirit of their music, in Bobby’s voice touches something in me that doesnt change, that remains pure. I see it in the faces of everyone around me too and i cant wait to celebrate it again with them.

44 and Pulling Narcissus from the Mirror

caravaggio_narcissusWatching Obama give his acceptance speech last night i was awash in the enormity of what was happening. I wept, happily for the candidate that I’ve been rallying for through endless blogs, frank discussions with friends and aquaintances, especially when they disagreed. Vigilantly guarding my Obama ‘o8 lawn sign, donations to the campaign, donning my Obama shirt at inappropriate places and teaching people how to be a part of our elective process regardless of their voting inclinations, all come to fruition. It felt amazing to have been in it instead of warily bemused as I cast my ballot for once.

I love America. I always have, though I have often been aghast at some of our choices and behaviors. I’ve often scratched my head at the rediculousness that says to Love my country is to blindly follow its policies without question. In my mind to Love something is to care enough to also challenge it to greater heights and call bullshit, yet stand with while doing so. Abbey’s edict, “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.” has always rung absolutely true in my soul. That questioning those I’ve entrusted to be my voice is the epitome of patriotism. In fact it is my obligation to keep them on their toes.

So when I watch Mr. Obama give his acceptance speech and I’m filled with inspiration and Hope at what might be, my tears are as much for the rest of the world as they are for we as a nation or for my black neighbors, friends and coworkers. Over the last couple of days I’ve found myself eavesdropping on dozens of conversations in restaurants, in line at a store, wherever, all abuzz about the prospect of an Obama presidency. And what the chatter was about is what makes me giddy. While I was watching that speech last night the scenes that made me weep tears of joy, and relief, and pride, and communion was the exuberant reactions of crowds in the streets and pubs in London, Madrid, and Hong Kong. It was as if the world was as relieved as i was that maybe now America was going to be a neighbor it could work together with again after so much hubris and myopia over the last several years.

What I’ve seen in the wake of the economic meltdown of the last two months wasnt so much an indictment of Trickle Down and deregulation (okay, yes it was) but more so a loud, screeching wake up call for us to see clearly just how interconnected all of us are; coworkers, neighbors, states and countries. When those lending institutions buckled under the weight of unfettered greed and selfishness it didnt just effect an easy to blame, faceless Wall Street. We all watched as the world’s economies got knocked to their knees. The chatter around me that I’m excited about was of Americans talking of issues and circumstances outside of Us and pondering what we can do to make it right, to fix it, to move forward.

In this respect i am so grateful that we’ve chosen a pragmatist who knows something of the world. That has lived in poverty and risen past it’s empty consciousness and realizes very tangibly that he didnt do it alone. That we must work together as a world community to rise above the challenges that are not respectors of Nationalism or colors. Economy and climate are equal opportunity apocalypses in the making. Or like for our grand parents, challenges to be overcome.

Churchill wrote that Americans will always do the right thing – after they’ve exhausted all other options. I think we’re all pretty exhausted. Fired up and ready to go.

That’s Hope I can believe in.

(Nov. 5, 2009)

Shaking My Own Hand

2b4ac717-3a59-489c-9778-4b4c230ec49eTonight I stared myself in the face and shook my boy’s hand – entirely by accident.
I was adopted and grew up tripping at the idea of no one looking like me with a quiet and unsettling knowing that someone looked like me.
That itch got scratched 15 years ago when I tracked down my birth mother. After a happy reunion and 3 years of magical connection it all went bad and i found myself pretty grateful that my upbringing was the only thing standing between me and my criminal genetics. End of story, book shut.
Until tonight when I bumped into an old drama from 16 years ago wherein a girl turned up pregnant and no one was sure whether it was mine or her husband’s. He slapped down any suggestion that it was anyone’s other than his and frankly, given the times, so be it.
16 years later I crossed paths with that man again and it was all water under the bridge. He introduced me to his son. I looked at him. I looked at his father. I saw a whole bunch of his mom in him. Then I saw a whole lotta nadda of his dad.

Then I noticed the eyes.
And the dark curly hair.
And that square head.
And when i shook his hand goodbye
I realized it fit perfectly in mine,
as if i were shaking my own.

The wheels slowly started to turn and I put pieces into place and it wasnt till the ride home that it really sunk in. That was my boy.
Though i am not his father. That man, looking nothing like him stood beside him tonight. I have no intention of reigniting that fire. It nearly got us both killed a long time ago.
It sure stirred up a cauldron in me though. Regret, relief, longing, pride, sadness and a long dormant ache. One that I get to live with because to scratch it means to do it at everyone else’s expense.
First do no harm.

I’ll happily cheer from a distance for the connection clearly evident between you and your dad. I know him and know he’s raised you well.

Enjoy the ride, my boy.

Decadence, Elegance and Resurrection

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I cant begin to describe how in love I am with New Orleans. I’ve often said that I’ve traveled all over the states and many places had their charms but I’d trade none of it for my bay area. I found the exception off the bayou. New Orleans touches something in me that I havent found a voice for yet but I fully intend to visit and revisit till the words come.

Hidden within it’s dense, humid evening air is 400 years of secrets, legends, music, sex, cuisine, corruption, culture and beauty that insists upon slowing down and breathing deeply in every decadent, elegant piece. It becomes a part of you. If not for the complicated obligations holding me here I’d trade this place in for a first floor shop and upstairs apartment on Royal street in a second.

I am taken with the sense of family that permeates each subculture I passed through there. Everyone is somehow interconnected. It was almost as if I hadnt known I was holding my breath when confronted with NOLA’s playful, gregarious, baudy warmth. Sitting outside our hotel the first night three old women stepped out to hail a cab from the 50th anniversary party they’d been attending. They chatted as if they knew us about how nice it was to see the judges again and chuckled wistfully that they’d all outlived their husbands, dubbing themselves the First Widows’ Club. As one passed me to sit on a marble landing I told her to hang on. She set her hand on my thigh, looked me in the eye with a twinkle and this elderly woman of old Nawlins money said in a purposely lusty voice, “You said hold on” to bursts of cackles amongst them.
Later in the week we were sitting in a seedy bar having amazing red beans, rice and andoulie sausage when the bartender suddenly bolted out the door shouting after someone. She brought him back in, slapped him and gave him the business about slipping out the back on his tab a few nights back. He sheepishly paid up as she waved him off, saying not to do it again. She came right over to ask how we were as if we were regulars. This sort of casual, sensual familiarity played out over and over during our stay. It called to me all week long. It truly is the Big Easy and even as it still tries to find its footing post Katrina, (the upper and lower 9th wards made me cry in their ever-present X marked shacks acknowledging searches and bodies like so many poor man’s makeshift crypts) it is a stunning city in all it’s forms. Wherever we went we were welcomed warmly. people thanked us for coming and pleaded for us to let people know that Nawlins had survived. Indeed only half of it’s original 600,000 inhabitants ever came back. Only 1 in 10 remain in the 9th ward where people were handed down shotgun shacks and row houses generationally and had no insurance.

NOLA is San Francisco’s sensual, traveled great aunt, chuckling sweetly at it’s angst-fueled reinvention of the sexual wheel. Patting it’s chilly, damp, activist, no left turn allowing kin on the knee she proffers assuredly, “Oh honey, you just go have fun!” with the wink of a worldly retired whore. I cant wait to know her biblically again.

State of the Gangster Nation

Bitch and Ye Shall Receive.
Or so it seemed yesterday when I walked into my bosses office after being out on disability since december and collecting 2/3 a paycheck for way too long. 30 minutes later I walked out with a 10% raise, a new zippy Mac laptop loaded with Adobe’s latest graphics programs, a flex schedule with a minimum of 3 days a week working from home and a strong potential for salary in a month.
Today my doc okayed me for precisely that job description and I should be rolling back in after the 3 day weekend the federal government tends to throw me for my birthday every year.
0fbe72b8-611a-40af-bd66-ebafbf5eacbbNot that I’m outta the woods yet. I’m still fighting the mrsa and my insurance company for the one magic pill that keeps it at bay. (@$110 a piece, twice a day) The wounds on my foot are still open and connected to a pump 20 hours a day. But hell, I may as well get paid while I’m busy being a gimp!
Oh yes and then there’s the redhead.
Have I mentioned that everything I was ever told about dating a friend ruining the friendship is officially utter bullshit? Dating my best friend has proven 16 months later to be one of the single best decisions of my life. God bless her patience with my sick, gimpy ass over the last few months but it sure has been nice to be with someone who has 20 years of reading me and knowing just how to communicate with and love me.
Trudge is defined as slow purposeful progress. My health and career footing seem to really exemplify that right now. My love life and my friendships bely that weightiness altogether. Sunday night a dozen of us crowded around the oversized picnic table in my backyard smoking cigars among other things, laughing to tears till I’m sure we annoyed the neighbors, my girl at my side. I remember just how I am blessed, truly.
Turning 44 never looked so good to me. Surrendering to a life I never thought possible was the best decision I never knew I made. Fuck the Ruby Slippers, I’ll keep rolling with the Flying Monkeys.

(May 21, 2008)

Presently Adrift

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Presently adrift
anchored in this coil
barely containing the fairly bursting
cacophony of fear, loss, and sadness
grief for what hasnt yet transpired
except unleashed
with the simple words uttered
she has breast cancer.

My lovely, loyal friend
an ever present beaconed buoy
sometimes called lover,
friend, truth teller
and once, savior –
strung out and sent from God.

I wonder how I might ever
pay her back.
I know only
that I
must.

(Mar. 29, 2008)

I’m Gangster Boyscout and I Approve This Message

I started out this morning looking to toss out an amusing ode to my favorite wink and a nod holiday, Steak & a Blow Job day. It’s purely tongue in cheek for me because well, let’s just say my girl is a great fan of celebrating the spirit of said holiday most any day. Feeling a bit lazy and lacking sufficient coffee-induced sarcastic wit i decided to post someone else’s bloginations on the topic. Hence, the title. The two most complete opinions I found on this man’s answer to V-Day couldnt have been more radically opposed:

Snarky Frat Boy Perspective:
“There is a longstanding mantra about the nature of dating: “Girls fake orgasms, guys fake relationships.” As awesome of a t-shirt slogan as that is, it’s not the ideal situation that anyone would like to be in. Women need Valentine’s Day to evaluate their partners. Any tool can buy a Christmas present, and put a reminder in their PDA for a birthday and anniversary. Women need a real test, that’s why they made Valentine’s Day. Men have to show that they love their women, not with one present, one meal, or one bouquet of flowers, but with a culmination of all the cliché crap they’ve learned from years of being subjected to “romantic comedies.” It’s very hard to pull off the perfect timing of dim lighting, chauffeured driving, and muff diving without some hint of true feelings. Women know this, and they expect to be swept off their feet on this annual occasion.

Now if men are going to play into this fairy tale, it’s only fair that they get some tail in return. Men may be known for faking feelings, but so are women. Men have submitted to woman’s relationship sincerity trials for centuries; now it’s time to turn the table (or get under it) and partake in man’s perennial sexual performance test. It’s pretty hard for men to analyze the forthrightness of the female orgasm due to a mix of arrogance, alcohol, and apathy. Therefore, men analyze sexual realness from the only perspective that matters: the penile one. Aside from that, we expect some dinner. It has long been stated that the way to a man’s heart is through his penis and his stomach…” www.pointsincase.com/article…_day.htm

Raging Feminazi Perspective

“Another issue with SABD is it seems to put forward the idea that the other 364 (365 if it’s a leap year) days of the year aren’t men’s days. That’s right: the facts that men make significantly more than women; that men generally don’t need to worry about being raped when walking down the street at night; that men hold the power in society, and so on, are quite plainly being overlooked. Notice my day count: I include Valentine’s Day. “But that’s bullshit! I spent so much money that day, planned weeks ahead, and was stressed out the entire time! How can that be a man’s day,” you say? Well, friend, it is a man’s day because it essentially permits you to treat your lady friend like a second-class citizen for the rest of the year in our fucked up culture. Not only that, but chances are you expected a little something in return and probably got it. In short, stop complaining, you ingrate!…” doingfeminism.wordpress.com/2008…-day/

I found myself sort of put off by either view. I didnt really want to be associated with the simplistic, dumb ass, (did your mouth fall open for extra oxygen intake when you wrote this?) perspective on women, sex and how we relate so I looked for other blogs… hoping for maybe a dry witted, playful brit angle that didnt take itself too seriously. No such luck. The Feminazi blog left me thinking of some of Hillary’s advocates and sure that medication and further therapy beyond ‘journaling’ your issues for the world to guard their testicles from was likely in order.

In the end I’m left thinking I’m a pretty lucky sumbitch – and so is she. If love is compatible neuroses I’ll take mine medium rare.

(March 14, 2008)

Moooovin’ On Up!

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…tooowooo the east side!

Check us out!

Now I’m pretty sure not many of ya will give a shit about this blog unless you’re a Raiders fan… okay, a football fan …or maybe a fan of anything other than kink, politics or Burning Man. I know, it’s a tall order on Tribe. But Sis and i have managed to negotiate 50 yard line season tix!!!!! Man have we come a looooong ways from the 4th row from the top of the stadium in 1995, back in the days when Raider games lived up to every scary story you ever heard about em. Those were some hellaciously good times – as long as you werent stupid enough to be an opposing fan.
Ah but times have changed. We made our way out of the nosebleeds a couple of years later with my first amputation and discovered the very fucking groovy world of ‘handicap access’. Behold the 2nd deck. Times changed in the Coli too. The rest of the nineties were all about Oakland trying it’s damnedest to wrest control of the House of Thrills back from the inmates. Every game used up every drop of O.T. available to Oakland PD, Richmond, Pittsburgh, Alameda County Sheriff’s dept and CHP. The wild tailgates, flashing titties, brawls in the seats, live music, (name another team that gets Metallica as a tailgate party band) intimidation, thundering bass-driven hiphop stadium PA and electric maddening ecstatic chaos that was the Black Hole would not go without a fight. No one that came for the game ever forgot the show, though I would never have taken my 6yo niece. This was no family ride. 4463_1073758439972_1106502521_30184367_490813_n
The new millennium brought Superbowl Dreams. Sis and I tried different sets of gimp seats on for size while the team gelled onfield and the crowd settled from raucous roars of war to haunting chants for the team in unison with one voice, even as we lost. Slowly, families became a part of the community, in direct proportion to the diminished gang activity. We’re still wild to be sure, still a perfect snapshot of the multi-ethnic blue collar of the bay area. There will be no brie or merlot in our house. But my sister can bring her my niece and this makes me happy.
Yesterday we made a final move, to arguably the best seats in the house. Top of the 1st deck, 50 yard line. In the sun. Somebody pinch me! The only down side is that it’s the ‘white section’. I hear rumors of appropriate cheering, ‘clapping’, and zero ethnicity. This will very likely bother me the same way traveling the northwest did. Everything’s pretty, nice, and oh so homogenized and vanilla.
Sis and I will hafta fix that. It IS me, afterall!

KISS MY ASS – I’M A RAIDERS FAN!!!!!!!

Pick Flick

13438885-2728-4ac7-895f-139d986a6932I’m boggled and disappointed that voters chose good old fashioned smearing, fear mongering and half truths tonight over actually turning a different direction. We get the government we deserve. Tonight Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island chose either Tracy Flick’s 90’s drama style executive branch run by yet another narcissistic dynasty or to get their asses handed to them in the general by McCain. I’m not opposed to voting for a woman, just not this one. Or havent people been paying attention to how many faces she showed in the last 7 days? Or how well she’s kept Bill in check? (imagine him roaming the halls, bored) Or how eager they are to pull the vast conspiracy trigger? Has anyone noticed how testy they are about perceived slights, insularity and obsessed with loyalty? Havent we just endured 7 years of that? The Clintons arent about anyone but the Clintons. Did ya catch her victory speech? My gawd, her snarky, demeaning, self righteousness made Cheney look humble. Oh i cant wait to listen to *that* for the next four years.
And if this all goes to the delegates, count on a Republican in the White House. I’m only relieved it’s McCain. What makes me saddest right now is how hopeful the rest of the world has been around the prospect of an Obama presidency. Europe and the middle east see him as a real departure, that America has achieved an enlightened soul. Even they want to believe in Us again.

I’ll be damned if I’ll vote for another dynasty. Behold, I smell smoke. Rome burns and TV only tells us which brand of marshmallows to buy.

(Mar. 2008)

Joe Cool, Aint.

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Many of you know that at the age of 40 my recessive gay gene became active. This has been evidenced by my compulsive need to replant and decorate my living room and my suddenly superior yard puttering skills. Unfortunately it also meant that around mid-november I became vulnerable to the infection that’s all the rage in the Castro district right now, MRSA. I blame my gay gene because since catching this virulent form of staph I now cant stand anything on HGTV. It’s totally over run my previously fabulous sense of style.
In case you didnt already know, I’ve been a type 1 diabetic since i was a child. Through many years of hedonistic, anti everything rebellion (and lots of unabashed fun) the check first came due during the early nineties in the form of two partial amputations of my right foot, a stroke, and 20% blindness over the rest of the decade. Who knew? Because i still look good damn it and isnt that what matters. Okay well that and stupendous sex, but I digress.
Today i just left my podiatrists office after two visits to the hospital in the last three weeks and a surgery. I’m scheduled for another surgery tomorrow as well as a pic line insertion into my heart because in spite of what the cultures say i should respond perfectly to, I have finally become antibiotic resistant. My body has entirely ignored all eight of the antibiotics tossed at it so far except one IV version. Bad timing since MRSA is a bad mutherfucker.
So here we are. I’ve spent a good chunk of my life being a tough guy, if not just mentally and emotionally at times. I’m a rock for a ton of people, and that wont change because it’s simply who I am and helping you helps me. But today I’m tired and finally afraid. Today I’m happy to receive any prayers or good vibes, mojo or magic you can send my way. I’m not so eager to give up the best life I’ve ever had and I’m fresh outta ideas and happy pills.